Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twas the eve before Christmas Eve and all through the room
The presents weren't wrapped and floors needed a broom
The kitty was laying wrapped round my head
And the tween, he was playing video games on his bed

Ah, the day before THE day before.  I should be baking and wrapping and singing carols, but I am not.  The husband and I went out for lunch and I had a rare drink and now I'm just tired and lazy.  The presents are piled in the closet downstairs and I keep saying I am going to go down and wrap so I don't get caught doing it all tomorrow.  The oven has been preheating for 30 minutes for those black bottoms I am going to make, but all that's happened so far is the cream cheese is getting soft for the mix.  The fire place was on and now the livingroom is a sauna.  What to do, what to do?  Nothing or something?  Tomorrow will be here in the blink of an eye and I'll really regret not doing anything, but I just don't see it happening.  Merry Christmas Eve Eve.   Hope you are enjoying your holiday!  I am!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tis The Season

I cannot believe it's 2 weeks before Christmas already!  Here in Maryland it's 65 degrees and sunny and has been for weeks.  It's definitely not the norm!  We have done some Christmas crafts and decorated early for the holiday and it has helped get us in the Christmas spirit.  Last weekend we took our two sons and our 4 year old granddaughter and carried out our tradition of cutting down our own Christmas tree at Friendship Tree Farm in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland.  We found another "perfect tree", this one shorter and more round than our normal ones, and dad cut it down while the two strong boys watched...go figure.  Then we went in to have dinner at "our" Chesapeake Beach restaurant that I still don't know the name of, but got our usual excellent quality food and enjoyed every single bite.  Next was on to North Beach, just down the road, but we got a pleasant surprise when we realized that because we were a week earlier than usual we were just in time for the annual tree lighting there!  In the hour we had to wait we visited the ice cream shop for dessert and the kids hit the little small town candy store that the kids love so much.  He carries all the "old"  candy like dots on paper, pez, taffy candy pops, mary janes.....  The boys don't choose those, but they are there to look at and reminisce about.

We met a gentleman who greatly resembled Mr. Claus, dressed in a red overcoat like he wanted to remain anonymous, but not really.  He had the white beard and the twinkling eyes.  We engaged him in conversation and threw a few hints and my granddaughter, who was skeptical, had a jaw drop moment when he called her Natalie Brown.  He never did reveal his true self, but he earned a hug and ":I'll see you at 20:30" from her as we left, which is preschool lingo for Christmas Eve I think.  We got to see the an old time Christmas train garden as something new and then had a great "seat" for the tree lighting.  Afterward, two satisfied young men and a very tired little girl returned home, another successful tradition and many memories tucked away in their hearts and minds.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's a College Thing

War and Witches

Yesterday was a homeschool day with just my son and I.  No daycare.  No grandbabies.  We slept in, a little later than intended, and got started with our much awaited American Revolution unit.  This son, son #2, is all about battles, so in learning American History, wars are high on his list of interesting things to learn about.  We watched a video called Great Americans:  The Revolutionary War and heard some cool things about a few people we had heard of already and then several people that played a lesser known, although no less important part in the war.  We then worked on Vocabulary Soldiers for our bulletin board while we watched 10 Things I Didn't Know About:  The American Revolution.  We really enjoyed that and are now going to record that series so we can watch some more of those shows about different historical things.

After our videos we put together our bulletin board and made a Cause and Effect domino cover for our unit that we will be adding to.   I think they turned out very well!

For lunch we made some stir fried rice and chicken.  Dakota liked making it, but not eating it.  After lunch we decorated for Halloween outside, putting lights in our milk jug ghosts that Dakota made last week and putting up the last of our outdoor things.  It was a crisp, cool beautiful day!  Trying to get him back on track proved to be very tough, however, and the last thing I got him to do was read a few chapters of his novella from the Copernicus series.  Later that evening he got to go play with the neighborhood kids for awhile and gave him the chance to burn off some of that endless energy he always seems to have and by 7:30 he was ready to come in and relax.  He decided  to watch a new series premier on TV called Supergirl and decided he loved it and set up a series recording.  This is his first regular TV series he has shown interest in that wasn't Disney Channel or Nick or some kids' show.  Ah, my boy is growing up.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Well What a MONDAY

Today was nothing short of Monday.  It started off bad, didn't get better, but fortunately, I suppose, didn't really get worse.  It's Mondayness just went on and on.

My husband was off work AGAIN (love you, honey) and that always means it's hard to pull myself out from under the covers in the morning.  Since my son, 11 and a terrible sleeper lately, had to have come in my room 5 times last night to tell me he couldn't sleep I was sure when his alarm went off he'd tell me that too.  Nope.  He said you were sleeping so I turned it off and went back to bed.  Ugh.  While it was nice to sleep I had no downtime for planning or coffee and barely time for a shower before the granddaughters came.

Dakota was a bear to get up.  Even more so than usual.  A big, unhappy grizzly bear.  He didn't have any downtime either since we got up late and since I had given him Friday off of homeschooling so he had to make his bed, get dressed and get right to work.  He was grouchy and whiny all day and everything took 5x as long to get done as it should.

Then there were the oldest two granddaughters, 4 and 2.  They burst in the door loud and wild.  The oldest then proceeded to zone out and whine for the next 2 1/2 hours until naptime and the 2 year old was gleeful, adorably rotten all morning.  Finally got them down and gave my son a 1/2 hour break at 12:30 and by the time I switched the laundry and emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it was time to get back to work with him.

He left for EcoAdventures with his dad at 3:30 just as the granddaughters woke up.  So much for a quiet hour to work.  I got them out the door at 4:30 and had a 1/2 hour to work before leaving to go to the bank, get gas (which I had to borrow money from my daughter for because my older son ran my van all weekend and instead of 250 miles until E I had 25!) then get Dakota back from EcoAdventures and over to football.  Traffic on 97 made me late picking him up.  Traffic on 3 made us late to football.  All that late made me late for my meeting with my boss at 6:30.  So now, instead of working, I am watching Ghost Hunters and updating my blog because I'm DONE.  Like a Thanksgiving turkey!  Thank goodness there is only one Monday in a week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Relief from the Heat

True to what the weatherman said, Sunday started a new trend of cooler weather.  Dakota's friend Dominic spent the night Sunday night and left around 10:30 Monday morning.  I had hoped to get a lot of work in after that, but my son was not in a very good place.  His focus issues were maximized and he was grumpy and whiny.  We got some schoolwork done, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.  He had a 90 minute EcoAdventure class from 4-5:30 and then with football practice moved to Tuesday this week we got a night in.  Again, a family favorite thing!

Tuesday was cloudy and cool.  Dakota was in a much better mood and we spent the day working hard.  While a pizza was in the oven cooking for lunch I introduced him to the Beatles and their music.  We are doing a unit study of the United Kingdom so this fit perfectly.  He couldn't understand what the big deal was, lol.  After lunch we got a lot done and even made the sensory (colors and smells) playdoh that I needed for my preK class later this week.  Now we are in that short, short two hour period before football.  I'll be working while I am there tonight, which makes the night go by quickly.  Note to self.  Do not drink a large hot coffee and a large iced coffee while working or you will NOT get any sleep that night!!

It's Wednesday morning currently and it's 60 degrees and gorgeous outside.  I am sitting on the deck with my dog and my coffee enjoying 30 minutes of me time before we get in a little school work and then my two sons and I are heading downtown to the Science Center for homeschool days.  It's nice that my older son's class was cancelled and he can spend the day with us.  We are going to see a planetarium show and an IMAX show together, with lunch in between.  Tonight is Dad's night for football so I'll be coming home to get my coupons ready and then heading out to the grocery store to stock up.  We are getting low around here!
          We ended up taking a family night off of football to just relax and get to bed early to catch up.  It's been busy!  Every once in a while you just need to take a mental health break.

Thursday was a cooperative day and we had a good time at classes.  My little ones in PreK did the letter A and apples and we had so much fun!  One of their favorite activities was getting to put fall spices in their fall colored playdoh.  My batch was heavy and wet and had to be thrown away (epic Pinterest FAIL) so my daughter was nice enough to make up a quick batch and bring it in.  The kids loved the sensory aspect of it.  My Thursday challenge is bringing all three of my granddaughters, my daycare baby and my son home after school.  I don't normally watch the baby because she is high strung and cries often, but I want her to feel at home here like the other two because I do plan to keep her with me eventually.  She is sweet and adorable, but babies take so much time and energy.  The good thing is she is now sitting up on her own and can play with her toys.  The bad thing is my daughter forgot to bring formula so there was no bottle and although Katie got food, she didn't get her bottle and by the time mommy came she was furious!!  Thursday night is for football and so we did.  Thank goodness only one more day of the week to go!

Friday saw grumpy, grouchy, not willing to listen kids.  My son wanted to be done before he finished.  The girls fought and were nasty.  I dropped Dakota off at his class at EcoAdventures and let the girls play at a new playground they found after we visited my mom.  One wet her pants.  One threw mulch all over the head of the other.  Lots of screeches and arguments.  Ugh.  Picked up the son and a friend and they were quiet and busy for the rest of the afternoon, but my girls, they didn't get picked up until 6:30 and I was D-O-N-E by then!  My husband got in and suggested we go to our room to watch TV and do our work.  That didn't work well.  We were both fast asleep before 9pm and slept until 9am the next morning.  I guess we really needed that!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It Sure Is September!

September and October in our family mean lots and lots of activities on the calendar and the second week of school was no different.  Monday started off with Dakota working for EcoAdventures at a Turtletacular Camp at KinderFarm Park in Millersville, MD.  He had to be there by 9 and then I had the three little girls here all day while he was there.  It was glorious out so I decided to put up the bounce house.  Things went downhill from there.  The three adorable angels turned into three little devils.  There were meltdowns, tantrums and worse.  By the time I picked him up I was completely wiped out and not at all in a good mood.

Tuesday was our only day home all week so we got in lots of schoolwork.....wait.  No.  I am looking at my planner and we got in very little.  How did that happen and what did we do?  Who knows.  It's a week behind me at this point.

Wednesday was a great day.  Dakota and I got to go to the National Aquarium in Baltimore for a homeschool day presentation.  Two educators taught us tons about seashore animals that neither of us knew.  It was a little silly, but good nonetheless.  Then they gave Dakota a booklet and we were to do a self guided tour of the aquarium, stopping at the 6 learning stations as we went and finishing with a dolphin presentation.  To my pleasant surprise my son was thrilled to be getting this information and seeing all the marine life.  He actually said "I am having a great time and learning a lot!".  If you know my son that's a miracle.  He is a chronic complainer and doesn't like anything that has the word work attached.  He did great here and we both had a fantastic morning topped off by a nice lunch at Johnny Rockets.  I had to pick up the girls and run some errands and he chose to stay home alone for the first time.  He is more than ready maturity-wise, but his confidence was low.  This time he did a perfect job and now I guess we move into the next chapter.  We had a little bit of time to relax and then off to football.

Thursday was our first day of co-op.  It was nice to get back into the routine of "school" for us and to be around our friends.  Things went smoothly.  I taught the preK kids first and enjoyed every minute.  I love having a class of little ones!  We learned about the alphabet, ate Alphabits cereal, drew our letters outside with sidewalk chalk, made Chica Chica Boom!Boom! playsets and made alphabet crowns.  Then for just this week I had to go upstairs and teach the middle school health class.  I love this particular group of kids, but my son was less than cooperative and he and I spent the rest of the day at odds with one another.   We watched movies through the afternoon and at 5 we headed out to football.

Friday was kids day at the AA County Fair.  This is usually one of our favorite field trips of the year, but it was very hot and there was little shade.  We met up with friends, watched the pig races, rode a few rides and beat it to the van in the air conditioning an hour earlier than planned.  Thank goodness for entertainment systems in the car to keep the granddaughters occupied!  At 1:00 we were at KinderFarm Park to take Dakota to his homeschool class turtle field trip.  Dr. Brady Barr and his wife Mei Len ran this one and the kids got to hike to a pond and catch turtles.  They learned so much about them!  Dakota always enjoys his time at Eco.  The girls and I stayed up at the playground and again, it was so hot.  We ended that way early too and enjoyed watching a movie in the van until Dakota was done.  We made it home and got to spend the rest of the night at home.  What a pleasure!

Saturday morning we got up and out by 10:30 to watch my oldest granddaughter play soccer.  "Play" is a loose term when you are talking about a 4 year old with ADHD and sensory issues, but she did get out there some and run around after the ball.  We cheered wildly and I treated Dakota, the two
oldest granddaughters and a friend's four kids to Slurpees.  Another hot one.  We came back for a few hours and then headed back out to KinderFarm Park for Dakota's football game.  He was playing against one of his good buddies and his best friend Tyler and the entire Weber family came to watch.  The game did not go in our favor, but my oldest daughter and my granddaughters and I did get a great seat on the hill in the shade so the heat finally wasn't an issue.  "They" say the end of the heat is here.  I sure hope so!  It's getting to be late September!  After the game we got to do one of the things we like best, go to dinner with the Weber family.  We got split up at football this year, but this was like old times and we all enjoyed it.  Kris and her Brian and the granddaughters were there which led to a bit of a circus atmosphere, but I enjoy having those I care about close by.

Sunday was my 24th wedding anniversary, but as usually happens on anniversaries my husband and I got into a terrible fight and spent the day at odds.  Oh well.  Sunday was enjoyable for the simple fact that we went no where and had nothing pressing to do.  I love being home.  The day went way too fast and before you knew it the work week was upon us.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Week Under Our Belt

The first week of homeschooling for this, my 16th homeschooling year, was a huge success.  Did we get tons done?  Nope.  Did we follow my "plan"?  Nope.  Did I even have a well written schedule with daily times and subjects to follow?  Nope!  Finally, after 15 years of trying to be on top of everything, following a tight schedule and worrying about the "big picture" I got with the program.  Which program is that, you may ask?  The one that says relax and enjoy your child.  Take it outside.  Stop to jump on the trampoline.  Veer off task and watch a great history video that captivates your child.  Let him ease into the change of schedule and he'll be a much happier camper.

The start of a new school year is exciting for me.  I love the new books, clean planners, fresh ideas.  I can't wait to start and I usually have big ideas.  At the table by 8:30.  Getting in all the subjects.  Big projects started.  I literally burn my kid out by the end of the week, especially this son who transitions slowly out of summer mode.  So this time we eased in.  We took our work onto the deck and spent a few minutes laying back in our chairs and watching the clouds, reflecting on how lucky we are to be together and this free from the grind.  We did our subjects.  Got in math and reading every single day.  We jumped back into colonial history, where we had left off in the fall but veered off to watch a great America Unearthed show I had DVR'd on /Vikings and how they may have been the first Europeans to settle in the new world then we took a screwdriver and practiced making some Viking ruins  on a tree stump in our yard.  We snuggled under blankets in our cold air conditioned house when the mid-September temperatures climbed near 100 degrees in a last burst of summer heat and humidity.  There we listed to chapter after chapter of the second book in the Copernicus Legacy series by Tony Abbott.  We did some acid and base science experiments with an old science kit we found and which must have had some expired items because half of them failed miserably!  We did some cartooning.  We had an impromptu "welcome to football season" dance party in the diningroom.  We tried to do a Magellan worksheet using longitude and latitude and sprawled on the floor looking at the atlas and climbed on chairs perusing the wall maps.  What we discovered was we have nothing that gives good clear coordinates and it's on our shopping list for this fall!

Friday came and I did have it in my mind that although we had to stop for lunch by noon because we had to leave for a class at 12:30 that we were going to get a lot done.  A lot!!  Wrong.  We both overslept.  It was a beautiful almost fall morning so when we finally got it together and welcomed in the granddaughters I watch a few days a week no one wanted to be inside.  It was a cool, clear morning on the deck and the date was September 11th.   I happened on a post with a video about that fateful 9/11 tragedy.  Dakota wanted to watch so together we watched in silence, lost in our own thoughts as we watched the tragedy unfold again and again.  Rebecca, my 23 month old granddaughter, didn't want to play in her playhouse on her bike.  She brought her adorable little blond haired self over to Dakota and begged Uncle "Kowa" to  "pweese jumpy, jumpy" and he asked to please not have to tell her no so off he went with three little girls in tow to the trampoline and then spent an hour shrieking and squealing and jumping around and around.  By the time I got them back in it was after 11.  I can't even remember what came up then, but the next time I looked at the clock it was almost noon!  So while I fed the girls and made his lunch he did his math and picked at a pb&j sandwich and then we were out the door for his EcoAdventures homeschool class.

While he was in class I took the girls to Kinderfarm Park where they enjoyed the nice weather and a reprieve from an afternoon nap.  When we went to pick him up he got invited to a friend's house in Beltsville and he and his friend were so excited I couldn't say no.  So the girls and I went back home without him.  The end.  Friday afternoon.  Week one of homeschooling fifth grade.  And we hadn't stuck to a schedule and we hadn't gotten lots done and we hadn't stressed over the little things or really over anything at all.  I have learned from my past mistakes....and it only took me 16 years!  And while part of me feels a little stressed about it, the better part of me knows that we had an enjoyable week.  We spent time together and we made a few happy memories along the way.  That's really what it's all about after all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fifth Grade Fun

Today is the first day of fifth grade for my youngest child.  The last year I will ever have my own child in elementary school.  He doesn't like that he missed the cutoff date for 6th grade by 3 days, but I am happy to have him here with me an additional year to homeschool.

I started off the morning oversleeping.  UGH.  He also got to "oversleep", although for him no amount of sleep can be too much.  I finally got him to the table for breakfast a little before 9 and at 9:55 we are still on morning work, but I am not going to push him and make him a grouch.  We moved our morning out to the deck and it's enjoyable sitting here with him, stopping to talk, watching the crazy cat do flips on the outdoor carpet.  There are no granddaughters making noise this morning.  No daycare baby running around.  Just Dakota and I, the way I like it best, sitting on the deck watching the world go by.    The trashmen just came by.  Young and shirtless.  I mentioned that I thought that since they were working they should have some kind of shirt on.  His comedic response was "so they don't look...trashy".  Hahaha!  He is a funny boy.  Yesterday his dad asked him to sit on his lap so he could tell him something.  Dakota promptly sat down and said "Santa I want a fire truck this year!"  You had to be there, but his comedic timing is great.  He's grown so much in the past year, not only physically, but emotionally.  My other son was always very young for his age.  Dakota is years older, a teenager before he was even a preteen.

We stayed outside until around 10:30  finishing morning work, checking out the National Geographic Kids website and having Dakota start a new novella that goes along with our audio book, The Copernicus Legacy, The Serpent's Curse.  We listed to the first one, the Forbidden Stone, over summer break.  It's a great series with a lot of mystery, clues and historical references.  When we came inside we watched the first episode of America:  The Story of Us.  What a well done video series.  Excellent for history.  Dakota wanted to watch more, but it was going further than I wanted to go in chronological years so we stopped.

We had some unexpected fun learning about Magellan, who is also featured in our Copernicus Legacy books.  He started his journey on this date in 1519 so we read a short blurb about his journey and then tried to do a global mapping activity about his journey.  Well, we now know we obviously need a good map with latitude and longitude clearly marked.  We tried an ancient globe.  We tried an ancient map and we laughed as we got nowhere, trying to answer questions flying by the seat of our pants on a world map.  We didn't do well and I'll definitely be getting us a good map soon!

My oldest daughter dropped by for lunch today.  She bought Chinese as a back to school treat for Dakota.  I was excited to see the older two granddaughters' reaction to the Barbie house I got them yesterday.  They loved it!  And it didn't cost a thing!  I love freecycle!  Lunch this way took longer than usual, but we got back to work after about an hour and while Dakota is doing his math I vacuumed and threw in a load of laundry.  He's groaning, but he'll live.  Next is our Scholastic magazine and we are going to do it online I think.  If we have time maybe an experiment or two from an old Magic School Bus acids and bases kit.  It's too young, but we might as well use it up.  He starts his EcoAdventures class this week and his chemistry on Thursday so there won't be too much formal science here at home this year.  

Tonight is football.  UGH.  It's very hot and humid.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow and break the back of the Indian Summer heat wave that's been hovering over us for days.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Happy Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the love of my life, Brian!  We were supposed to have baseball all day today, but knowing in advance we were due heavy rains I made plans.  When we got the cancellation for baseball this morning we turned off the alarm and slept in....til almost noon!  My younger daughter came in wondering if we were all dead or something because I especially am never asleep that late!  Wow, it felt great!  We had coffee, relaxed then my son went to pick up a 1/2 bushel of crabs as my birthday treat to my husband.  We are going to eat them and relax some more and then he is going to get him mom for a simple, but favorite spaghetti dinner and maybe a family movie.  It doesn't take a big party or a lot of people to make a day special and I hope this simplicity and being around some of his family (the girls had to work today) will make it a terrific day.  I love you!

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's Not Easy Being Me

I had a rough evening and an even rougher day because I didn't get much sleep last night.  My heart was hurt, which happens to me more often than to most.  I know that turning 50 in a few weeks is a milestone and in lots of ways I have been preparing in good ways for the "second half of my life".  I am less critical of some things and more critical of others.  I cry rarely these days, but hurt more.  I want more than anything to feel appreciated and yet I feel like the men in my life only notice my existence when they want something I have not provided.  I have a 22 year old son living at home who used to think I walked on air and did no wrong.  Now that he has a Ms. Right in his heart, however, and she is at home in another state for summer break from college, he is extremely moody and often lashes out at me.....something he never did in his 21 years prior.  He is all wrapped up in his future and I am just along to watch.  I am criticized if I don't have the answers to all his dilemmas, but my advice is scorned more often than not these days because I just don't seem to understand him anymore, he says.  Okay.  He has earned this love.  I try to not to feel wounded as he gave me 21 years of "worship" lol.  I will survive this heartache because he has been such a doting son.

Then there is the 10 year old.  He can be harsh!  Where son #1 always thought I did no wrong, son #2 thinks I do no right.  He is often rude and disrespectful and then lashes out when he is corrected. Dad is most often on his side and together they whisper about how I am the villain.   Very soon I believe he won't like me much at all and while that breaks my heart I signed on the dotted line at his birth to be a parent first and a friend second.  I just hope he doesn't completely break my heart in the process of growing up.

Then there is my husband.  THE man in my life.  But he has hit his stride in life and there is little room for me.  He wants me here and wants what I provide as the one who runs the home and raises the kids and the supporter of his efforts, but he doesn't want to be bothered with me in the sense that he doesn't have the time nor desire to entertain my wishes for walks in the park, a dinner just us two, conversation that isn't interrupted by kids, something that I like that he may not.  He wants me to be independent because he is.  He doesn't want me to put any restrictions or guidelines down because he is his own man.  When I tell him it's part of the package after being married for 25 years he is not interested.  He has his goals in line, his dreams within reach and I am a hinderance to all that.   He is a good provider and a wonderful father.  He is the love of my life.  But time, which I crave so very much, isn't something he has to give right now.  I am trying to be brave and pull up my big girl panties and champion his efforts as one day I would want him to champion mine.

Now when I read this back it seems I am either pitying myself or I have crappy men in my life.  They are not.  They are the loves of my life.  I adore them.  I live for them.  Saying they want to be independent is not really true.  They are very dependent on me to be and do and find and wash and whatever it is they need.  My husband says to go and do whatever it is I want to do......but how can I when they all would be blindsided if I stopped doing what it is I do as their mother and wife.  They say this is nonsense.  Those that look from the outside in know differently.   My men are spoiled.  What??  No dinner?   What??  My uniform isn't washed??  What??  You have plans and can't get me there??  What??    I guess every mother and wife go through this.  Maybe not.  Most women I see are the nurturers, but they are nurtured as well.  I only dream of being nurtured.  I feel like a chicken freshly plucked from life's demands and when I voice this I am told to stop and do what I want.  Oh, but the uproar when I do!!    Work and making money is necessary.  How I work is not anyone's cup of tea.  Do more of this, but less of that and when I do then I need to do more of that and less of this.  Take things off you plate, but make sure it's not this or this or this or this or......

I never understood women who "ran away" from their families and it is something I would never, ever do, but sometimes I sort of understand.  How do you come to terms with the demands from family and work and deal with the needs that you have for yourself?   I wish sometimes someone would call my name and when I answer say what do YOU want to do tonight?  What would YOU like for dinner?  Is there something YOU need done by tomorrow to make your day easier?   Come here, they would say, and just take a hug.  Let me give you some affection to get you through a tough afternoon.  But when I have a tough afternoon or I get grouchy because I have too much on my plate I get long looks and quiet grumbles about whey did I choose to do such and such if it was going to make me grouchy for those I need to be here for.

So today I will battle my demons.  I will chase away the blues.  I will conquer the weariness and the aching heart.  I will be here for the men in my life and for my daughters and for my three granddaughters.  And I will ask for them to please remember that sometimes momma/Cindy needs someone to be there for her too.  But they will never know.  They don't read my blog...     :/

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Have A New Blog

If you have a toddler or preschooler and are interested in a website with more comprehensive ideas about the themes I do with them including book lists, websites and songs, please visit      I enjoy working with preK aged children and since my daycare baby is three and my oldest granddaughter just turned four there is plenty of fun to be had.  If you visit, leave a comment and let me know how you like the new blog and what you might like to see there in the future!!

Two Kinds of Fun

I have 2 preschoolers today, 1 toddler and 4 "big kids" ages 10, 10, 12 and 7.  The big kids have been allowed to hang out in Dakota's room this morning playing video games until 10.  It's gorgeous outside just now so they are outside jumping on the trampoline and I am ready to give them a Nature Scavenger Hunt from   My son, of course, had to pout and run his mouth, but he's going to live through it.  He looks back on his summers so fondly, but at almost 11 getting him to act like he enjoys things is a challenge.

We are still waiting on the other preschooler so right now my 4 year old granddaughter has watched the Sid the Science kid DVD on insects and is not watching Magic School Bus Gets Ants in It's Pants.  Our current theme is Bugs and Butterflies and today's focus is ants.  It's hard when I don't get both preschoolers at the same time because now one has probably slept in and the other is going to be tired soon and we still haven't done out activities for the day.

The big kids completed their scavenger hunt much too quickly and are now at the picnic table teaching each other the "cup dance" where you tap and move a plastic cup to a certain beat. That lasted 10 minutes.  Now back inside they are building with Legos and doing the first Lego Quest, which is building a car.  They are getting along well, but that bedroom is very crowded now that they are so big!  They also watched the new Night at the Museum while they were in there and part of another movie.  I don't even know what, but it was from our home collection.

The littles got up from watching their movie for rest time and we did our fun afternoon activities all about ants.  We did an ants on the log counting activity, putting the correct number of pony beads on brown pipe cleaner logs.  We did a counting ants activity with number recognition, reviewed ant body parts (3 body parts, 6 legs, 2 antenna and no teeth!).  Colored a picture.  Practiced writing their names, did ant mazes, found letter Aa in a grid of letters then learned the Ants Go Marching Home complete with stomping and patting and read 4 books and THEN went outside and put ants in our bug catchers to watch.   That earned them 2 freezy pops each and they happily played on the deck for the rest of the time before their parents came and I got dinner on for my guys before they left for baseball practice.

I helped my daughter get the girls settled in the new/used van that has so much room for them and the girls have their own DVD player to watch!  Now they won't want to ride with me :(  lol.  It's what made Nana's van special!  Once they were gone I cleaned up the backyard, did some work on the fence so Riley, our shephard/husky doesn't escape too easily, put organic homemade weed killer on all the weeds in the 3 part garden, cleaned up dinner and washed the dishes and now it's 7:40 and I still have the deck to clean, the playroom to clean, the laundry to do, dinner for my oldest son who wanted french toast and  then maybe I can read a little if I'm not asleep.  Long, long day.  Glad tomorrow is an "off" day and my daughter and I will be taking the kids to my best friend's new farm to meet all the animals.  We will still be taking 5 kids, but at least there will be two adults.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Fun Begins

Today we had our first day of summer camp 2015.  Dakota, Lindsey and little Brooke had a waffle bar for breakfast with jellies, blackberries, butter and syrup.  We packed up and headed to the free summer movie which was Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  Not a bad movie at all and the historical references were entertaining and educational.  Afterward my older son met us at Sorrentos for pizza and french fries for lunch and then I took the Dakota and Lindsey to the library near our house where they participated in Tinker Tuesday, making and launching paper rockets while I browsed for books.  They got an hour or so to just hang out inside when we got back to the house, as the 100 degree heat made even swimming unappealing.  Now it's early evening and nasty storms are rolling through.  I am going to work and watch the newest Night At the Museum movie together and have a late dinner.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer 2015

This week Dakota and I are "off".  No required math or reading.  No fun work packets.  No field trips.  Just home and doing our things.  For him that means sleeping in, staying up late and more video games than I am comfortable with.  For me that means one less thing to squeeze in the day, but also the chance to get ready for our summer fun days, filled with friends, field trips, movies, library activities, picnic lunches, long weekends away.  I am do not have my grandchildren on Tuesdays and Thursdays so those are the days I know I can do "big kid" things with my son and his friends or go on trips and not have to take more than 1 little one.  We will go almost every Tuesday to the Hollywood theater in Arbutus to see the free movie there and then have lunch out or a picnic, depending on the heat and then I will either take the kids to the Arbutus library or the Lansdowne library where they have daily activities for kids their age.  My "tweens" have outgrown the Michael's art classes and while I am sad because I enjoyed the chance to shop while they had art, my wallet will appreciate it!  We will have weekly packets and weekly themes, the first being poetry.  Shel Silverstein books will play a roll as well as writing some fun ones together.  I am always proud of my summers.  The kids that come to my house look forward to the planned fun and I enjoy their company for several weeks, knowing they are getting older and my summers with this particular group are reaching an end.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

As Spring Turns Into Summer

       As spring turns into the summer of 2015 I am pleased with our fun activities so far.  It is weighing a bit heavy on my heart that my youngest is 10 years old, soon to be 11.  Only 4 more years to homeschool him.  Only 5 1/2 more years til he can drive.  I want to make the most of these years and give him memories to last a lifetime.  Some things we do just him and I, some with him and his dad, some include his older brother (22) and some include his sisters.  Quite a few include his little nieces, ages 4, 20 months and 3 months currently!
        So we started off with a big bang going to Disney World in April.  The two boys and I drove down, stopping in North Carolina on the way to spend some time with my sister in law.  We spent April 19th through 26th in Disney and then came home by way of Boiling Springs, South Carolina, where we spent the night with my sister and brother in law.
        Once home our travel baseball games kicked in and we've had lots of games at new places and dinners afterwards with great food.  We have been to Skyzone for Koda's buddy Tyler's birthday.  We've been to a couple of Oriole games, including a great night game with fireworks after and WJZ Weather Day at Camden Yards, including a soggy game after that.  We had a great homeschool picnic where we hooked up with many homeschool friends at Lake Waterford park and we went to Six Flags last Tuesday for Natalie's 4th birthday, taking along a friend for Dakota.  The weather was wonderful, the park was practically empty and we had a fantastic day. We went on a Park Quest to Wye Island on the Eastern Shore and dinner at Harris's Seafood that evening and of course, we have already had our first few bonfires of the season.

  All that in May!!
         June has started very cool and very damp, gray and rainy.  We can't get in any outdoor activities because of the weather, but we were blessed with a visit from my niece Stacey from Missouri and her husband and daughters.  We have not seen the girls since we visited them when Dakota was 4!!  We got to see them for a couple of hours yesterday and are hoping for a couple more hours tomorrow.  We have plans galore for the month including movies, daycamp, Park Quests, the Science Center, Mount Vernon a tournament in Charles County and I am sure lots more!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Destinations to Explore with Cindy

I did it!  I was hired by Destinations to Explore and I have become a licensed travel agent!  I am specializing in all things Disney, but I can book a vacation package, airline flights, cruises or even rent you a car anywhere and anytime!  Please visit my Facebook page at and spread the word far and wide!  This is a dream come true for me and I can't wait to share the MAGIC with all of you!  My greatest asset is the network that I have from my homeschooling and sports contacts and from right here on this blog.  I have reached hundreds of people and if they all spread the word, I am going to be booking vacations in my sleep!  Stay tuned to see who will be my first Disney vacationer to book with this new agent!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February Fun

Yesterday we had a family snow day.  Dad worked from home, college son and girlfriend were here, Dakota and I took the day off.  The snow had actually fallen the night before and the day dawned sunny and clear.  We all hung out for most of the day and then at 4pm my daughters both arrived, as well as my two granddaughters.  My husband and younger daughter and I took Dakota and Natalie, my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter, sledding.  We went to a nearby park with big hills and spent almost 2 hours sledding and hauling each other up the hill.  The kids had a blast.  Poppy wore himself out and I took tons of pictures!  I love capturing the fun they are having, the blue of their eyes and the rosy red of their cheeks!

The cold warranted a warm drink and some donuts at the nearby Dunkin Donuts and then home to the rest of the gang for a steak dinner with microwavable sides (not my usual - but quick and easy!)  Dinner was noisy and chaotic, but that's the way it is with 8 people in the house.  How about adding a newborn granddaughter in a few weeks?

Things finally settled down around 7:45 and we put on Grease for our family movie.  My 10 year old is still too naive to catch most of the raunchy references in the film and he enjoyed the cool swagger the guys had and the songs they all sang.  We were all exhausted by bedtime and those cool sheets sure did feel good when we climbed underneath.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Travel Anyone?

Two years ago when my little son and I were going to Walt Disney World in Florida, I used the services of a fabulous travel agent from Destinations to Explore named Regina.  She answered all my questions and set us up for a fabulous time with absolutely everything taken care of.  No worries.  When we returned I chatted online with her about how becoming a travel agent would be a perfect "second career" for me now that I have raised three kids and the last is ten.  We talked about my family's love of travel and how I have been organizing trips and activities for Maryland homeschoolers for the past fifteen years.  She suggested I put an application in with her travel agency and gave me all the information.  I did put an application in and sent along my resume.  I didn't hear anything back and soon I was too busy with life to even remember I did so.

Last week I got an email from Destinations to Explore.  The name sounded familiar.  It was the same lady I had been referred to and she asked in her email if I would like to work for the company as a travel agent!  I had to read and reread the email, wondering if it was some kind of scam.  I looked up the company, although I knew they existed because I had used them myself.  What I found was a well respected company, with a unit specifically for Florida attractions.  I still couldn't wrap my head around it.  I contacted my agent from 2012 again and asked questions.  I verified the name of the woman I was speaking to.  Yes, this was legitimate!

Two days ago I signed a contract!  I was notified yesterday that as soon as my Sea World login and password issues are dealt with I will begin training and within a few weeks I will be a travel agent!  Oh my!  I cannot believe that this opportunity has been given to me and I intend to make the most of it.  I am in love with all things Disney so this is perfect for me.  The company also does cruises, beach resorts, Hawaii and more.  I am feeling extremely blessed.

So if you are feeling the itch to travel or know someone who is, I would love to work with you to make your vacation one to remember.  I should be up and running by March 1st.  I just can not wait!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Being A Mom

"You are only as happy as your saddest child" was a quote I read recently.  How true!  When your kids are doing well it's so much easier to be at peace with your own life, but when one or more of them is having a hard time, my personal stress is directly proportional to this.  And I guess the more children you have, the more opportunity you have for stress.  And then there are grandchildren.....   Ah, a mother's work is never done.

My husband doesn't get it.  He doesn't get why I stress and fret when one or more of our four children or two, soon to be three granddaughters are sick or stressed or hurt or worried.  My heart is so directly linked to theirs that I feel their pain almost as acutely as if it were my own.  Today my older son is having girlfriend troubles.  He is hurt and anxious and angry and I am anxious about what will play out with the relationship because if it doesn't work, he will be heartbroken. My heart aches for him.  My oldest is stressed raising two little girls who are sick currently and she is 8 months pregnant with baby girl number 3.  She has had little sleep and is not on her A game and not only do I worry about her, but I worry about my two little sick grandbabies. My heart hurts for her.
 Thankfully children number 2 and 4 are doing well!  (Last week it was car troubles for #2 and blood work anxiety for #4!)

Sometimes I wish I could just hear their pain and wave my hand and say "wow, that is terrible" and then go about my day, but I know that God didn't make me that way.  He made me with a compassionate heart and a tender soul and being a mother and a grandmother and a wife are the main reasons I am here on this earth.  It would be easier, surely, if I were not so easily affected by the lives and times of my family, but then again, I wouldn't be the woman God intended for me to be.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Rainy Monday Morning

Monday mornings are hard anyway, but a freezing rain, gray and gloomy Monday morning is especially trying.  I knew Dakota was not going to be a happy camper anyway when I woke him, so I decided to provide an enticing morning to help get us going for the week.

We started off our morning together in the livingroom in the recliners, under blankets, eating pop tarts, Mom drinking coffee and Dakota drinking milk while we watched Magic School Bus videos.  We love them and the air pressure and weather episodes are tied in to our meteorology unit for Science.  Ah, I see a smile on my little man's face!  My daycare baby Brookie came and she joined us in the third chair with her flower blankie and a bowl of dry Fruit Loops.  Yes to this!  I am watching and planning out our day, tweaking things so we can do most of our work right here.  

And like all well laid plans, a train ran right through them.  My mother, my daughter and my two granddaughters all arrived at the same time. The sidewalk outside was icy and it was raining and my 82 year old stepfather chose today to bring a large box type TV for my younger daughter to my house.  So I throw on a jacket and my shoes and go out --  it sounded like something out of a Laurel and Hardy movie!  My 82 year old mother is yelling for my pregnant daughter and my 3 year old granddaughter not to slip and she is grabbing at them, making things worse.  I take the TV in both hands and try to get it inside without falling down myself.  Then my mother insists on helping everyone else up the steps while everyone else is trying to hold her up!  Finally got everyone inside and she kissed us all and said goodbye before her cruise later in the week and I had to go back outside to help her help me to her car!  Of course the peace in the house was completely shattered.  

I gave Dakota some independent work to do with his health and Which Way USA books and we got a moment or two more of quiet before all heck broke loose again when my 3 year old granddaughter took it upon herself to go into Dakota's room and take the hamster out of the cage and take it into my sleeping 21 year old's room and wake him by putting the hamster in bed with him.  She got in big trouble for taking the hamster out of his cage and then she carried on and cried when a time out ensued.  Whew!  What happened to my morning?

Lunch was served and little ones laid down for naps.  Dakota went in to finish up his first Writecraft Minecraft assignment and then came out to do his graphic organizer for the project and then type it up in paragraph form.  The last thing on our list shortened list was a chapter of Disney After Dark and a chapter out of our A History of Us book.  No math happened today.  Not the science or history I had planned.  No personal reading time.  Sigh.  That bothers me, but I am trying not to let it get me.  I homeschool so that life can happen.  I repeat that to myself often.  Math and Science will come first thing tomorrow, as will the other things that have to happen.  Today was a lazy, crazy Monday and I will have to deal with that. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Back to Normal

So this week has been extremely busy or what we call normal.  Yesterday we were dropped off at 10:15 at the Maryland Science Center for the homeschool days there.  I was very disappointed that they decided to change policies and told me we could not, as members, see the planetarium show for free with our membership because it was a homeschool show.  No.  Not really.  You show it there at the planetarium other than homeschool days....  It wasn't worth the fight, but I wasn't paying $13.00 to see something we were entitled to for free.  We walked around the near empty, but brutally cold center until it was time for our Forces of Nature IMAX show.  It was extremely well done, but very loud.  Very powerful, just like the weather.

After our IMAX we had the "treat" of eating in the cafe.  Dakota asked that we not take our lunch and so we had lunch there, which was average at best.  Both places - the cafe and the lunch room, were FREEZING, as was the whole first floor so we headed up to the third floor to wait out the minutes until his Guide to the Galaxy class then back out into the cold to hurry home and relax for the evening.

Friday was a normal school day.  We enjoyed putting together our solar system model that he had painted on Wednesday.  This was a model of Galileo's Heliocentric Theory.  Galileo was the first chapter in the second volume of A History of Us so we got history, science and art all in one.  We are still reading the first Kingdom Keepers book as we lead up to our April Disney World trip, but it's taking us forever and a day to get through then he wants to read the second one!  He kept a good attitude through most of the day, but by 2:00 he was itching to be done so he could have some time to himself before going to EcoAdventures.

Saturday has been wonderful.  I had a few errands to run and we watched our granddaughters for a few hours in the afternoon, but the slept the entire time.  Then the four of us sat under blankets in comfy chairs or sprawled on the couch in the dark with only the fireplace glow to compete with the TV screen where an awesome football game took place between the Ravens and the Patriots.  We were ahead right up until the end, but lost 35-31.  My guys took it better than I thought they would and now everyone is doing their own thing and the house is quiet.  I love the weekend!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Crazy Cold

Today we woke up to crazy cold weather.  The temperatures are low, the wind chills lower and there is ice and snow on the ground to add the look of a frozen tundra.

I thought I was going to be able to stay in all day because they cancelled our homeschool review for the afternoon, but my daughter's car door broke and I had to run out to pick her up and take her to work.  The roads were actually in good condition and I was only gone about a half hour.  I got home just in time to start Dakota on our schedule.  While he made his bed and straightened his room, I made chocolate chip pancakes.  I was surprised yet again when he willingly went into his room at 9:30 to have his personal reading time.  This is the kid who complains loudly for all to hear about how he hates to read, yet this half hour of time seems okay for him.

10am brings morning work for him that is done independently.  He works on language arts activities and some fun papers.  This week is all about the new year, writing goals, making a flip book etc.  We moved from that through spelling and math with little difficulties and it was nice to not have many interruptions to get us off track.  One daycare baby was sleeping and the other was watching an ABC video in the livingroom and playing with big plastic animals quite content to be by herself.  The noisy little granddaughters stayed home ;)

Next was a mixture of history, science and art.  We continued learning about Galileo and focused on his Heliocentric Theroy, stating that the sun is the center of the universe.  Before Galileo built his telescope to prove this, the world thought that the Earth was the center of the universe.  We read about his discoveries and then watched a short biographical video then started painting styrofoam balls in our solar system kit to put together tomorrow to make our model.

Lunch is looked forward to eagerly around here since we are doing our Writecraft Minecraft unit from  He is working on his first project, a fort, and he is very pleased to be able to play during lunch, which is usually not allowed.

After lunch is always harder for him.  He does not like to work in the afternoon.  He started by finishing up painting the styrofoam balls, which before lunch was great fun.  Now it was stupid and boring and he hated it.  Next was two chapters, partner read, of Kingdom Keepers, Disney After Dark.   He griped and complained about writing his summary after and then griped and complained some more when I asked him to fill in the layers of the atmosphere on his balloon diagram, draw the diagram and add what happens in each one and then watch a short video on the ISS.  He couldn't wait to be done, so I am not sure how much he got out of the afternoon.

This evening I am inside, warm in front of the fire.  I am unusually restless.  I have just made a pot of coffee and I am going to sit and watch American Idol tonight.  Maybe that's it.  My mind has been very busy lately planning for school and working my independent contractor transcription job.  We are going to the Science Center all day tomorrow for activities and classes so no planning tonight and my contact didn't send me any new jobs.  Nothing to do!  I don't think I know quite what to do with myself!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Yesterday, besides being my younger daughter's 27th birthday, was also our first day back to school after the Christmas break.  We had needed the break and made the most of it, but it was time to get back.  I had done a lot of planning for both my homeschooled son and my preK granddaughter and daycare baby and I was ready.  I got up at 5:30am to have "me" time before school and then the day ran pretty much on schedule.  It wasn't without it's bumps and my son was sooooooo tired, but we made it.
     Our day included 30 minutes of personal reading and 30 minutes of morning work for my son to start off the day independently while I made Alligator A's and practiced writing and sounding out the letter A and reading alligator books with the littles.  Then they played and watched an alphabet video while my son and I learned about the atmosphere layers using a labeled balloon and watched some awesome Youtube videos.  We did a little paperwork, managed to get through all of our scheduled math with a minimum of attitude and then began his Writecraft Minecraft unit where he does some writing, but also follows the directions to make a project using Minecraft, a big passion of his currently.
     After lunch we started our second History of Us book focusing on the years 1600 to 1770 in American history.  We learned about Galileo and ended up discussing many things about religion and change and other countries, which kept us from doing our related video and project, but was rewarding all the same.
     The best part of my day, however, was getting an evening out with my husband.  Nothing special, I suppose, but we visited his mom in the hospital and then had a fabulous dinner at a local favorite restaurant that had changed venues.  I had veal and onions and he had sour beef and dumplings and it was so incredibly good!
     So it was a good day for school and our personal lives right!  Back on track.  Putting the laziness back in it's time sucking cage.
     Well, not really.  My son had gone to the Towson basketball game with his big brother and a few of his college friends.  He had so much fun and the boys included him in games and pizza afterward.  So instead of his regular bedtime, he ended up with a midnight one.  Then, I get up and realize we are having a snowstorm (just supposed to be snow showers!) and public schools are closed so since I wasn't going to get much more than an overtired, grumpy attitude from my boy anyway, I gave him a snow day.  Now tomorrow we have 1/2 a day because I have my county review for homeschooling and then we are supposed to have a science center program at 5:45, but it's supposed to be so cold the wind chill will be below zero and we have to go back and forth outside.   They will most likely postpone that.  THEN Thursday we are to be at the Science Center all day for classes and then he goes right to EcoAdventures for his aftercare class where he is working towards being a Junior Assistant.  Sigh.  Routine. That's becoming a comical word.  It seems that every time I think we are going to be able to get in some structure and routine, life happens.  I try to go with the flow because we homeschool so we can experience life, but I am a creature of habit and my boy does best with structure and routine.  I try to make that happen, but it always feels like one step forward and two steps back.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Out with the old and in with the new!  Last night a very lazy household passed the time together doing lots of nothing, eating steamed shrimp, pizza and veggies and dip and dozing.  We did see 2014 pass and 2015 with a hoot and holler from my husband and then I was under the covers by 12:15.

So what was 2014 like for me personally?  As I reflect, I think it was a year when I came into my own.  I stopped worrying so much about the things that don't really matter and gave myself the freedom to say "no" or "I don't want to".  I am someone who always wants to make things better for others and will do so at my own expense.  This past year I was much better at saying "I need" and then following up with that.  I learned that standing up for myself can have a very positive outcome.  I learned that I cannot take away the hurts of my children or my husband and sometimes I just have to say "work it out for yourself because I just can't".

So what do I want for the new years?  What do I hope that 2015 holds for me as I near and reach my 50th birthday?  I want to lose weight and feel great.  I want to be more organized in home, school and life in general.  I want to stay ahead of the game and not fall behind.  I want to make good choices and save money where I can.  I want to always look for the very best deal and keep a running tab of what I do.  In 2014 I saved over $3000 at ShopRite, where I do my main grocery shopping, and I vow to save even more in 2015.

In 2015 I want to be less impulsive and more impulsive, depending on the situation.  I want to blog more often and journal daily.  I want to have patience and display kindness even more than I have done in the past.  I want to make my homeschool and daycare a fun and interesting journey for the young ones in my life.

In 2015 I will not only reach the milestone of turning 50, but I will welcome my third granddaughter.  I will return to Disney World with my two sons.  I will work hard at a new transcription job, but remember that I am only one person and can only do so much.

In 2015 I will......   Ah, that the beauty of a new year, isn't it?  I will do whatever I can.  I will experience both good and bad.  Welcome the new.  Say goodbye to the old.  I will experience life to the fullest extent possible.  I will love with all my heart.  I will try hard to be the best me I can be.  365 days to write this new chapter in my life and I am ready!